Happy Holidays from Geoff Herbach!

It’s official, Figs: the weather is getting frightful, the mistletoe has been hung, the lights are twinkling–the holidays are upon us! To celebrate, we’ve asked some of our favorite authors to share holiday memories with us. Tune in all through December to get in the holiday spirit!

Geoff Herbach is a creative writing professor and mostly YA author. His newest book, Stupid Fast, is about a formerly awkward teen who’s suddenly discovered a talent for football. He can use it to join the team, gain status, and–best of all–finally get girls to notice him. But how long can he maintain the speed? The sequel to Stupid Fast, Nothing Special, is out in May. Before you check out his books, get a glimpse into Geoff’s life as a teen, when he was still just a kid lusting after a fedora.

What I really wanted for Christmas as a freshman in high school was a black fedora. For some reason, lots of cool people were wearing fedoras at that time. They didn’t wear suits with their fedoras, they wore ripped up jeans and they tied bandanas around their wrists.  Incongruity reigned in the late 1980s. Girl-obsessed hair metal singers, who were lyrically masculine, poofed out their dos with hairspray, dabbed their cheeks with blush, and wore Madonna-style fishnet leggings. Confusing.

I thought a fedora would make me cool.

But, my mother never asked me what I wanted for Christmas. She bought me Cosby sweaters (of multiple colors and knit sizes). My grandmother bought me dress socks, which I wore with high-tops to be incongruous (nobody could see–I needed to wear short shorts).

My father was a more sensitive gift-giver. For Christmas that year, he gave me a small wad of cash, which I knew I could exchange for a hat. It was a wonderful gift. The day after Christmas, I hit the mall in Dubuque, Iowa to find the perfect fedora.

Good luck.

In those days, Chess King was Hot Topic. At Chess King, you could find all your pop culture clothing needs (parachute pants of a million zippers, bandanas of a thousand flavors). Dubuque had no Chess King. Dubuque had Sears (lawn mowers) and Younkers (control top pantyhose). Dubuque also had a Spencer’s Gifts, filled with posters of celebrities in bikinis and trashy gag products (fake vomit and the like).

My friend Jason and I walked around Kennedy Mall in Dubuque, cash burning in my pocket. Jason looked like Matt Dillon. He wore ripped up jeans and a tiger-striped bandana around his wrist. Iowa girls fell to their knees as we passed (all praising him, none noticing the dress socks underneath my high-tops).

No fedora.

As young women fawned over Jason and stores showed themselves bereft of cool hat, my angst grew.

“This is BS, man!” I said to Jason.

“What?” he asked, smiling at a permed girl, so sprayed-out her hair exploded beyond her shoulders.

“BS!” I shouted.

“You should get that hat we saw at Spencer’s,” Jason said, winking at another young lady.

The hat he referred to was a red and white baseball cap with the word BULL stitched high on its front panel. Below BULL, protruded a tiny stuffed bull butt.  Stitched to the brim sat a small pile of stuffed bull poo. Hilarious. It communicated what I felt about my life at the moment: BS. So, I bought it.

Back home, my mother convulsed. She threw my hat in the trash. I pulled it out of the trash. She drove it to the dump. I didn’t have a car and Jason, my only friend with a car, was on a date. Late that night I sat in my dark room and listened to the saddest song of all time: “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore.”

Thankfully, each successive Christmas has been slightly better.

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